Deep blue ribbons wrap around a number of the trees at the Grayson County Courthouse this week as a reminder of the 559 Grayson County children who were abused or neglected last year. Another several dozen smaller flags circle a memorial garden on the north side of the courthouse.
That number is up this year from last according to Kelley Eidt, forensic interviewer at the Grayson County Children’s Advocacy Center in Sherman. In fact, Eidt said, that number has gone up for each of the 10 years the Center has been open. In those 10 years, the CAC has served more than 4,000 children.
A release from Children’s Protective Services of Texas said, statewide, CPS investigated 160,000 allegations of child abuse or neglect last year. The release said 156 children in Texas died at the hands of their parents or other caregivers and 66,398 were victims of abuse or neglect. Additionally, more than 17,000 children had to be removed from their home for their own protection.
“While stopping abuse after it happens is critical, it’s not enough. We need to stop it before it starts,” said DFPS Commissioner John Specia. “Many of the parents CPS works with are young, some are poor, and almost all of them are under stress and need some kind of help. Helping parents is one of the keys to preventing child abuse!”
Grayson County and state officials aren’t the only ones taking notice of the need to protect children. Fannin County commissioners approved a proclamation in favor of child abuse prevention earlier this week and and the Fannin County Children’s Center has a number of activities planned to raise awareness during this month.
FCCC Executive Director Sandy Barber said everyone there is encouraging people to “Show their Blue.” Many businesses, churches and schools will be posting the slogan of the month “No Excuse for Child Abuse” on their marquee signs. Others will purchase yard signs or banners from the Children’s Center with the same slogan.
Center staff also encourage creativity. “Last year we were thrilled to drive by L.H. Rather Junior High in Bonham and see that students had stuck blue plastic cups in the fence to spell out “No Excuse for Child Abuse,” said Barber. Students at Trenton High school created a blue bulletin board with photos and information about child abuse last year.
Barber reminded folks that April 9 is Go Blue Day in Texas. Everyone is encouraged to wear blue in honor of victims of child abuse. Some local businesses also plan on wearing blue every Friday in April.
“We hope folks will be sure to snap photos and send them to us to post and share,” said Barber. Photos and stories can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eidt said awareness is the key as is having the courage to make a report if someone suspects a child may be in danger.